Gynecomastia vs Fat: Symptoms and Treatment

What is Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia1 or man boobs (in slang language) is a very common condition among males where the breast of men swells up to become abnormally large, resulting in a bad appearance.

Both males and females have breast glands in them. Females are fully developed and functional, but it is small and underdeveloped in men. Breast gland enlargement tissue2 is found in men of every age group like newborns, adolescent males, and old males. However, 90% of the cases are resolved when people reach adulthood.In this article, we are going to study about Gynecomastia vs Fat.

The debate between Gynecomastia and fat has become one of the trending topics in the world. Gynecomastia isn’t caused by obesity but is caused by additional breast tissues. And by doing exercise and losing weight, enlarged breast tissue in Gynecomastia cannot be reduced.

Pseudo-gynecomastia3 is another condition in which fat is built upon the breast, causing enlarged breasts. It can be reduced by losing weight. Breast enlargement can cause people to suffer from low self-esteem and low self-confidence issues. This topic should be understood by everyone.

Causes of Gynecomastia

There are a lot of factors responsible for Gynecomastia4. Some of them are:

1. Imbalance in Sex Hormones

Gynecomastia can be caused by hormonal imbalances in the sex hormones, i.e., estrogen and testosterone. The estrogen hormone results in the growth of breasts, and the testosterone hormone stops estrogen from making breasts grow. Men and women have both testosterone and estrogen, but men have higher testosterone levels, while women have higher estrogen levels.

As many as one in nine newborns has palpable breast tissue. This is because they get high levels of estrogen from their mothers. When the estrogen levels return to normal, the swelling usually disappears within a few weeks. As men approach middle and old age, swollen breasts become a more common source of confidence.

Compared with younger men, older men produce less testosterone and usually have higher fat content. This can also lead to increased estrogen production, causing Gynecomastia.

2. Medications

There are some medications whose side effects can cause the breasts in men to enlarge. Learn them to understand the difference between Gynecomastia and fat5. These medications are:

  1. Anabolic steroids
  2. Some anxiety medicines like Diazepam
  3. Chemotherapy
  4. Some cardiac drugs, including calcium channel blockers and digoxin.
  5. Tricyclic anti-depressants
  6. Some HIV drugs, including efavirenz
Researchers have proposed a possible link between Gynecomastia and some illegal drugs. It is believed that between 10% and 20% of cases are due to medicines or herbal products, and 25% have unknown causes. Products like tea tree oil and lavender oil present in creams and shampoos can also affect.


Symptoms of Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia in men generally includes swelling and tenderness of breast tissue on one or both breasts. The areola, the pigmented skin area around the nipple, may increase in diameter, and the breast tissue may appear asymmetrical.

If you experience abnormal and persistent nipple swelling, tenderness, pain, discharge, or a combination of these conditions, be sure to see your doctor.

Diagnosis of Gynecomastia

The surgeon will ask you about your medical history, medication history, and possibly family history. A physical exam will be done on the breast tissue, as well as the genitals and abdomen. Gynecomastia and fat together can become a very confusing issue without any accurate diagnosis.

Suppose the cause appears to be a hormonal imbalance, such as during puberty. In that case, the doctor will usually inform the patient that the condition may resolve on its own within a year.

If the lump is abnormally large, soft, on one side, fixed and hard, or accompanied by nipple discharge, the doctor may order a biopsy to rule out breast cancer. Proper diagnosis is required to differentiate between Gynecomastia and fat.

The surgeon will then send you for the further examination process, which will include a blood test, and imaging tests which may include:

  • mammogram or ultrasound
  • chest x-ray
  • CT scan or MRI
  • testicular ultrasound.

If applicable, a tissue biopsy will be done by taking a cell or tissue sample from the target area for microscopic examination.

Gynecomastia Surgery

The breast is composed of firm and dense glandular breast tissue and soft fatty tissue. The ratio varies from person to person. Men with Gynecomastia may have two types of tissue at the same time.

Liposuction can remove excess fat tissue around the male chest to treat the disease. It involves inserting a small tube through an incision of 3 to 4 mm.

Resection refers to removing tissue by making small incisions with a scalpel to remove excess breast tissue or glandular tissue. This usually leaves a scar on the edge of the nipple. If a large amount of tissue and skin needs to be reduced, the incision and scar will be larger.

In most cases, resection and liposuction are used at the same time. After the operation, there will be bruising and swelling in the chest. The patients may need to wear elastic compression suits for 2 weeks to help reduce swelling generally takes about 6 weeks to return to normal.

Surgical complications are rare. They include improper reduction of breast tissue, uneven breast contours, and a feeling of weakness in one or both nipples. Resection may pose a risk of blood clot formation. This may require drainage.

The Treatment Plan for Gynecomastia

Make sure that your issue is Gynecomastia and not overweight. Gynecomastia can usually be resolved without any treatment, but it may be treated with breast reduction surgery if there is an underlying disease. If the condition is caused by one medicine, the patient may need to switch to another medication. If the patient uses the drug for a short period, the condition will be temporary.

What is Obesity?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple body mass index for height, generally used to classify adults as overweight or obese. Obesity is defined as an abnormal or excessive accumulation of fat that can damage health. “It is defined as the weight of a person (kg) divided by the square of the height (m) (kg / m²).”

Gynecomastia Vs Fat

Gynecomastia may also occur due to weight gain, so it is naturally difficult to distinguish between Gynecomastia and breast fat from a layman’s point of view. Fat accumulation in the breast area due to obesity or systemic weight gain is called pseudo-gynecomastia.

This condition can occur at any age, but it is most common in middle-aged and older men. In contrast, men of all ages may develop Gynecomastia after entering puberty. However, it is most common in late adolescence and adulthood. People often get confused after reading an article on the difference between Gynecomastia and fat and think they are the same.

Major Causes of Obesity, and its Symptoms

Although genetics, behaviour, metabolism, and hormonal imbalance affect weight, it occurs when you consume more calories than exercise and normal daily activities. Your body stores these extra calories in fat, mostly seen in the stomach and chest area. In most countries, people eat too many calories, usually from fast food and high-calorie beverages.

It is mostly diagnosed when your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher. “To determine your body mass index, divide your weight (in pounds) by the square of your height (in inches) and multiply by 703. Or divide your weight (kg) by the square of your height (m)”.

For most people, the Body mass index provides an estimate of body fat. However, BMI does not directly measure body fat, so some people, such as muscle athletes, even if they do not have excess fat, BMI may fall into the obesity category.

5 Risk Factors Because of Obesity

Being overweight can cause many risk factors. Some of the factors are:

1. Unhealthy lifestyle

Some unhealthy lifestyles are skipping breakfasts, smoking, eating junk foods, and drinking alcohol and carbonated drinks. These types of lifestyles can cause a person to have many health issues.

2. Calories

If you consume a lot of energy, especially fat and sugar, but do not burn this energy through exercise and physical activity, the body will store most of the excess energy in the form of fat.

3. Inactivity

Lack of physical exercise is another important factor related to obesity. Many people’s work involves sitting at their desks most of the day. If you are not active enough, you will not use the energy provided by the food you eat, and your body will store the extra energy you consume in the form of fat.

4. Family history

Certain traits inherited from parents (such as a large appetite) can make weight loss difficult, but it is certainly not impossible.

5. Genetics

Some rare genetic conditions can cause obesity, such as Prader-Willi syndrome. Most people have no reason to lose weight.

Diseases Caused by Obesity

The diseases caused by obesity are:

  1. Type 2 diabetes
  2. Hypertension
  3. Heart disease
  4. Liver disease
  5. Cancer risk

Cure for Obesity

Dietary changes to reduce calorie intake and develop healthier eating habits are essential for overcoming obesity. Although you may lose weight quickly at first, sustained long-term weight loss is considered the safest and the best way to maintain weight permanently.

Key Takeaways

It is very necessary to diagnose the real cause behind breast enlargement in the male body. Not every enlarged breast person is suffering from Gynecomastia; some might be suffering pseudo-gynecomastia. Judging someone by appearance and making fun of them should be avoided as it can cause serious issues like depression. With better treatment, Gynecomastia and fat issues can be solved.

Also, check out, Major Reasons Why Antidepressants Cause Weight Gain


1. How can one be sure of gynecomastia?

Ans. One can be sure of gynecomastia by:

  • Blood Tests
  • Urine Tests
  • Mammogram Test
  • Biopsy

2. Suggest two foods which will help in reducing gynecomastia.

Ans. Salmon and Tuna will help in reducing gynecomastia.

3. What are the symptoms of ‘Grade 1 Gynecomastia’?

Ans. Grade 1 Gynecomastia is a very mild type of gynecomastia, represented by a ‘puffy nipple’.

7 Best Exercises For Gynecomastia
Icy Health
  1. Braunstein, Glenn D. “Gynecomastia.” New England Journal of Medicine 357.12 (2007): 1229-1237. ↩︎
  2. Lesavoy, Malcolm A., et al. “Axillary breast tissue: clinical presentation and surgical treatment.” Annals of plastic surgery 35.4 (1995): 356-360. ↩︎
  3. Shin, Hyun Taeg, Ji Hyeon Pang, and Ji Yoon Kim. “Two cases of Pseudo-Gynecomastia treated with wild Ginseng pharmacopuncture.” Journal of Korean Medicine for Obesity Research 13.2 (2013): 84-87. ↩︎
  4. Sansone, Andrea, et al. “Gynecomastia and hormones.” Endocrine 55 (2017): 37-44. ↩︎
  5. Blau, Mordecai, Ron Hazani, and Daniel Hekmat. “Anatomy of the gynecomastia tissue and its clinical significance.” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery–Global Open 4.8 (2016): e854. ↩︎

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